Elizabeth Stephanie Montez was killed over a roll of pocket change, prosecutors say.
The trial for Cedric Green, one of four people accused in the transgender woman's October 2017 killing, began Tuesday in 117th District Court. After a jury was selected, attorneys presented their opening statements, laying out what they think evidence in the case will show.
In his opening statement, First Assistant District Attorney Matt Manning promoted the theory that while all four suspects were played a role in the crime, Green was the one who "primarily concocted" the plan to kill Montez.
He said Montez had been seen going to Church's Chicken to exchange a roll of dimes totaling $20 for paper money. Those dimes had initially been given to co-defendant Chloe Huehlefeld by Green, but Huehlefeld said Montez had stolen them from her, Manning said.
They went to several shops looking for the money. A employee at Church's said the roll of coins has been exchanged there.
"I anticipate what you'll learn after that is that Mr. Green, Chloe Huehlefeld, Randy Dorsey and ... Jace Montange went to Mr. Green's apartment and had conversation about what was going to happen to Liz," Manning said.
Manning alleged the four suspects made a plan for "retribution" by luring her near an abandoned barn on County Road 61. There, Huehlefeld threatened Montez with a gun Green had given to her.
Huehlefeld fired a shot, Manning said. Montez ran out to the brush, and Green took the gun and handed it to Montange and told him to "finish the job." Montange shot at Montez about 12 times, Manning said.
Green's attorney, Mark Stolley, asked the jury to consider what evidence he said they would not see. He said there's no evidence Green shot Montez; there's no DNA evidence, fingerprints linking Green to the scene or weapon that's part of the state's evidence.
Manning said the gun was disposed of in jetties near Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Stolley questioned the credibility of some of the state's witnesses and their motivation for testifying. Dorsey, for example, accepted a plea deal in the case earlier this year. Stolley said he expects Dorsey to receive probation for engaging in organized criminal activity.
He maintained the case lacks "hard evidence."
"When you put all of that stuff together, you realize that this case just goes away with reasonable doubt and the only true and fair and just verdict is not guilty," Stolley told the jury.
Green is charged with murder and engaging in organized criminal activity. He has pleaded not guilty.
Huehlefeld maintained during her trial she was present when the shooting occurred but didn't take part in planning it.
Montange is scheduled to go to trial later this month, according to online court records.
Montez, 47, was discovered on the porch of a home between Corpus Christi and Robstown in October 2017, according to an affidavit. She was "bleeding and not communicating effectively" when found by authorities, the document states.
She was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
An autopsy found she suffered five gunshot wounds.